‘News on Facebook’ shows media newest ways to enhance audience reach

By CORY HANCOCK and RYAN BASDEN

ATLANTA – On Thursday, Feb. 9, dozens of local media members gathered in the Mason Fine Art space in Atlanta for “News on Facebook,” an event highlighting the newest way Facebook is enhancing the way journalists reach their audience.

The all-day event was a part of a new collaborative effort by Facebook, called The Facebook Journalism Project. This project aims to provide a collaborative development of news products, as well as training and tools for journalists.

“News on Facebook” provided a vast amount of social media data for the attendees to analyze and assess how to adjust their current social media strategies.

The event began with a quick opening from Jason White, manager of Strategic Partners at Facebook, followed by Meghan Peters, another employee of the Strategic Partners division, who spoke on the impact of local news on Facebook.

12Jason White welcomes attendees to the “News on Facebook” event. (Photo by Ryan Basden)

Following this, Lila King, an Instagram employee in News and Publishing partnerships, gave an insightful presentation on how to better utilize Instagram for reporting through features such as Instagram stories, live video and consistent posts.

After a catered lunch, a presentation by Amber Burgess, a Facebook Strategic Partners manager, showed the audience the benefits of CrowdTangle, a content discovery application that enables newsrooms to intertwine various social media platforms.

By merging all of those platforms, CrowdTangle provides a neat presentation of content based on user determined parameters. This allows users to aggregate content they might want to write their own stories about, track the success of stories they have already published and get an idea of what their audience is after.

Later, Julia Bain, a member of Facebook’s media team, discussed Facebook’s live video feature in greater depth as a revolutionary tool for engaging with your audience.

Immediately following Bain’s presentation, a panel of three local journalists, Matt Pearl of 11Alive, Julie Wolfe of 11Alive and Joanne Feldman of Fox 5, fielded questions about their experiences utilizing the various aspects of Facebook when reporting.

Lauren Colley, audience development manager for “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,” said that the presentations reinforced that her team was on the right track, but realized she needs to be more consistent with what they are doing.

“I’m curious to know, how do you balance a good mix of native video in your timeline versus content that will link back to the website where the video lives?” Colley asked.

Many questions similar to Colley’s were asked throughout the event, and White said the questions were a vital part of the mission behind “News on Facebook.” He said the idea is to have a deeper collaboration with the journalism industry.

“I like to just go out and be with the people that use our products,” White said. “I think in some instances we learn more from them than they learn from us.”

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Facebook staff assist attendees with what Facebook has to offer news organizations. (Photo by Ryan Basden)

The fresh functions of Facebook, Instagram and CrowdTangle provoked many journalists to ask questions oriented toward eliciting a magic formula from those presenting the features available.

Josh Mabry, a Strategic Partner developer at Facebook, believes the tools provided can help reach the audience better, but that they aren’t the key to gaining a bigger and better audience.

“I think everyone is looking for some magic bullet theory, but it really comes down to good content,” Mabry said.

The Atlanta “News on Facebook” event was the second of its kind in the United States. The first was held in Dallas, Texas on Feb. 7, 2017. White said they plan to hit every region in the country, but a swing toward the West Coast might be next.

 

SunTrust Park to heighten Atlanta traffic

By TYLER MORSE

ATLANTA — There is one word that creates the same feeling for every person who lives in or around Atlanta: traffic.

Every Atlantan knows traffic is the worst part of the city and its surrounding counties, especially with all the changes and events going on within the city. The biggest challenge on traffic over the previous year has been the construction of SunTrust Park, the new Atlanta Braves stadium.

“We believe the new stadium location is easy to access while also giving our fans a first-rate game day experience in and around the ballpark and making it a 365-day-a-year destination,” said Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz in a statement from the Braves’s organization in 2013 when the new park was announced, which also explains the organization’s reason for moving locations.

The entire project of the relocation has been tedious and has seemed to cause more problems than it has fixed. With this relocation having the potential to make traffic worse for the Cobb County area, those in Cobb County and the Georgia Department of Transportation search for solutions to traffic.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

Heavy traffic is something that is always in an Atlanta driver’s rear-view mirror, especially in Cobb County. With a major university, many school systems and major high schools, as well as being the new location for the Braves stadium, the future of Cobb County traffic does not look bright.

The Cobb County government and the Georgia Department of Transportation have come up with a conclusion to the pending problem. The two are working together to complete the bridges and the roads to make the incoming increase in traffic manageable and not overwhelming.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

Their goal in working together is to avoid instances like the one portrayed in the image above of Interstate 75: one of the main transportation routes for Cobb County residents. This will only get worse with the addition of the Braves stadium.

Cobb County is in charge of the immediate construction of the roads to alleviate the traffic, said Analise Baker of the Georgia DOT.

“The road projects are all on Cobb County even though it’s on the interstate, which should be a DOT project,” said Baker.

So this shows that Cobb County is taking the responsibility ever since the county got the bid to build the new stadium. Their plans to alleviate traffic are all already in progress and their joint effort with the DOT aims to help everyday commuters as well as Braves fans.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

This is the Cumberland Mall area where the street for the ballpark meets I-75. Throughout most of the day, this intersection is one of the more congested in Cobb County.

This is the main point of concern when it comes to easing traffic flow, as it is the interstate that most fans will take to get to the game.

The hope is that the projects underway from Cobb County will allow traffic to flow freely.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

 

This is a view of the new stadium construction site from an adjacent hotel as construction wages on. The construction is on track to be finished by the start of the 2017 baseball season.

The traffic around the Cumberland Mall area with all the construction is almost unbearable, but Cobb County is doing its best to redirect traffic around all construction vehicles.

People’s daily commute through this heavily trafficked area has been slowed to crawl, but the county’s hope is that it will be much more enjoyable after the improvements to the surrounding roads.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

Large, towering cranes can be seen in this image as the construction on the adjoining hotels and shops continues next to the new stadium.

What can also be seen in this image is the state of the road next to the stadium. The street is littered with construction cones and debris — mainly due to the construction of the stadium, parking garage and hotel, but there is already some construction underway on the streets as well to expand them.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

 

Construction signs are everywhere you look around the Cumberland Mall area in Cobb County, but is slated to end soon.

The stadium is going to be completed in 2017, but according to Cobb County, there are plans to continue to work on the roads and the bridges to help traffic flow even after the completion of the stadium.

 

With the new stadium being right in the middle of the business district — District 7 as defined by Georgia DOT — the worry is that the stadium will make matters worse with the day-end traffic from these major businesses.

The after-work traffic rush would be right at the time people would be flooding in for an evening game, so the traffic would almost double. However, the bridge around I-75 and Windy Hill that Cobb County is currently building is aimed to give business commuters a second way around baseball traffic.

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Pictured here is the new parking deck. Turner Field did not have one, and Cobb County DOT officials pushed for it to help with parking. Parking is one of the bigger concerns with the move to Cobb County in regards to traffic.

Downtown, there are at least five different lots to park in, and that is not taking into account the street parking and independent lots. The new location does not have that luxury, so parking is the top priority in regards to traffic flow.

Cobb County’s solution is this large parking structure.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

This is another structure that is in the early construction stages, and it will be another parking structure right next to the stadium pictured in the background.

This structure will be taller than the previous structure and will be another help in solving the parking problem, which was the No. 1 reason to dislike Turner field according to fans.

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(Photo by Tyler Morse)

According to ESPN, the average attendance at an Atlanta Braves game ranks 22nd in the MLB at about 23,000 attendees. This number could increase if fans consider the stadium to be in a more accessible, hassle-free location.

 

According to the Braves’s website, the new stadium’s capacity will be 41,000, which would rank it in the top 20 among U.S. stadiums, and will cost about $620 million. That’s 20 percent less than Turner Field.

Click here for a map from the Cobb County government website. It is a map of the current and future projects that Cobb County is tasked with to make traffic better around the new SunTrust Park.

The legend in the top right corner also shows more detail on the purpose of the project and what is planned for each individual one. All these projects are aimed at helping the flow of traffic and eliminating the hassle of parking when Braves fans come to see their hometown baseball team.

“First off, it was closer to their season ticket holders,” said interim director of transportation for the Cobb County DOT Jim Wilgus about why the team is relocating. “The stadium is located much closer and in the middle of their season ticket holders.

“The second reason is access,” he said. “The new location has 14 points of access, which will spread the incoming traffics across the system.”

“Parking areas are distributed in all directions from the stadium,” he said. “To help with pedestrian traffic, we are also constructing 12-foot-wide, multi-use trails in all directions from the stadium.”

Wilgus expects more retail store, restaurants and commercial properties will be added after the stadium opens, he said.

Wilgus and the Cobb County DOT have a plan for traffic flow for both commuters and fans alike.


All that is left is to see the plans unfold, and then it will be time for Atlantans to enjoy America’s pastime: baseball.

PODCAST: Trump suggests voter fraud

Voters concerned with integrity of election

Information security tips revealed

By THOMAS HARTWELL

Click here to listen to the podcast.

KENNESAW, Ga. — Information security online is a top priority for businesses, organizations and personal computers in a digital age.

Data security is of everyday concern, but in a presidential election season, security of voter data is an additional concern. In the wake of the Democratic National Committee hacks, believed to be carried out by cyber attacks from Russia, KSU student Thomas Hartwell talked with experts in information security, elections and foreign affairs to address these issues.

Ponce City Market, surrounding areas undergo development, re-branding

By GEORGE MONTGOMERY

ATLANTA — Ponce City Market is located in the southwest corner of Midtown Atlanta and has a rich history, despite being open less than two years.

What began as a Sears and Roebuck distribution center in 1926 is now a mixed-use development with more than 1 million square feet of shops, offices and apartment homes. Ponce City Market stands as the perfect example of mixed-use development with more than 439 residential units and hundreds of thousands of feet for retail and office space.

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The project was made possible by the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program, which awards substantial tax breaks and incentives to developers who wish to restore and redevelop historic buildings.

The Flats at Ponce City Market have stunning views of Downtown Atlanta and rent at a starting price north of $1,700 for a 500-square-foot studio. Many residents are worried these apartment homes set a price-point precedent for other rental properties nearby.

AMLI Old 4th Ward is an apartment complex located across the street from Ponce City Market and overlooks the Historic Fourth Ward Park. A one-bedroom, one-bath apartment in AMLI starts above $1,600 a month, slightly less than a studio in Ponce City Market.

This apartment complex boasts easy access to the Beltline and the Fourth Ward Park, which is a major attraction for many Atlantans.

The Historic Fourth Ward Park is not only a beautiful place to enjoy nature, walk your dog and exercise, but it also acts as a collection pond for runoff water.

“There was a big flooding issue in this area before the park was built,” said Tyrone Rachal, president of Urban Key Capital Partners. “It’s not just a pretty lake. It actually pumps stormwater out of the system so we don’t flood.”

Invest Atlanta, which worked to help develop the areas surrounding the Beltline, played a major role in the creation of the Historic Fourth Ward Park.

Rachal, who worked for Invest Atlanta during the development process, said tax allocation districts, or TADs, are the reason the Beltline and the developments around it exist.

Another apartment complex across the street from Ponce City Market and facing the Beltline 755 North. It also has benefited from these TADs.

These districts generate tax revenue that allow for development.

“The assessed values of the property within the districts are fixed at a certain rate,” Rachal said. “Growth that occurs after the TAD is established can be used to pledge bonds.”

Tax allocation districts carried the development and funding for the Beltline project, which is currently incomplete. The Historic Fourth Ward Park, which is a development separate from the Beltline, is being completed in phases with a large, unfinished portion between the collection pond and the green space and skate park.

The Eastside trail is the first completed portion of the Beltline project. This two-mile stretch of paved trail and linear green space is a favorite among Atlantans, connecting the sound end of Piedmont Park in Midtown to the Inman Park neighborhood.

Many businesses near the redeveloped Ponce City Market have attempted to re-brand themselves to avoid negative association with what was once a high-crime neighborhood.

Beltline Kroger was once known as “Murder Kroger” because of various other unfortunate events including killings that occurred between 1991 and 2015. Despite the owner’s attempts to refresh their image with new signage and a beautiful mural on the side of the building, it appears to be impossible to clear the building’s grim past. It was announced in early 2016 that the building will be torn down and redeveloped as a mixed-use complex.